As the temperature drops, your heating bill goes up. Having a reliable furnace is crucial, but issues that build up over time can lead to furnace repairs, decreased efficiency, high energy bills, or even a complete breakdown.
If you want to make sure your home is cozy through the winter months, it’s vital to perform basic furnace repairs and maintenance throughout the year. Here are some valuable furnace repair tips and tricks to ensure your heating is functioning its best when the nights get chilly.
Replace Air Filters
Clogged or dirty air filters can significantly reduce your furnace’s efficiency – not to mention the toll on your indoor air quality. Though you may not think of it often, your HVAC air filter traps dust, debris, and allergens to keep them from circulating through your system and your home.
Over time, your air filter becomes clogged with all the debris, hindering proper airflow and putting extra wear and tear on your furnace. You should check and replace your air filters at least every three months – every month with heavy use – to improve your furnace’s performance.
Clear Air Vents and Registers
Like the air filter, blocked or obstructed vents and air registers can disrupt airflow and prevent warm air from distributing evenly throughout your home. Check all your vents and registers to ensure that they are free from dirt and dust that restricts airflow.
You should also move your furnace and décor away from your air vents. Something large like a couch or cabinet can impede the flow of air, making it more difficult for your furnace to keep a comfortable, consistent indoor temperature.
Install a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat, or programmable thermostat, allows you to preset temperatures for different times of day. For example, if you don’t have family or pets at home, you don’t need your house to be a cozy temperature while you’re at work. A programmable thermostat can keep the temperature lower while you’re away yet kicks the heat on just in time for you to return to a comfortable home.
A programmable thermostat can make a big difference in your energy bills and your furnace’s lifespan. When your furnace gets a break from working hard through the winter, it takes less abuse and is less prone to major repairs or breakdowns.
It’s easy to install many smart thermostats on your own, but a professional from Service Champions can help you choose the right model for your needs and preferences and complete the installation for you.
Inspect the Flue and Venting System
If you have a gas furnace, the flue and venting system play an essential role in expelling combustion gases outside. You should inspect the flue for any signs of damage, such as cracks or gaps, and check for debris or blockages that can affect proper venting.
If you’re not comfortable handling this yourself, feel free to call in a pro from Service Champions. We’ll inspect your flue and venting system to make sure everything is clear and working as it should for efficient operation of your gas furnace.
Pay Attention to Strange Sounds
Unusual sounds, such as banging, rattling, squeaking, or squealing, coming from your furnace are clear indications that something isn’t working properly. You could have a loose or broken component, worn-out belts, or a failing motor, any of which require furnace repairs.
If you hear or see any problems, it’s best to shut down your furnace immediately to avoid major problems. Call for an appointment at Service Champions and we’ll send a technician to diagnose and repair your furnace in no time.
Monitor the Furnace Flame
Gas furnaces have a distinct color and appearance of the burner flame that can indicate the furnace’s health. A good flame should be steady, blue, and well defined. If the flame is flickering or yellow, it could mean there’s a combustion problem like a dirty burner or inadequate airflow.
This is not a DIY job! Unless you have plumbing experience, contact a qualified technician to address the issue safely and correctly.
Stop Furnace Rapid Cycling
Rapid cycling is when your heating system fires on and off. This adds wear and tear to your system, possibly leading to more furnace repairs, and wastes money. Rapid cycling is designed to maintain a near-constant room temperature, so it kicks on when there’s a temperature drop of a degree or two. If your thermostat is programmed to less than one degree, the heater may go into rapid cycling.
To stop it, make sure the cycle-rate adjustment in the thermostat setup mode reads from one degree to two degrees. If you want to change it, move it higher to defeat rapid cycling. This is especially important in early and late winter when it oscillates between cold and warm.
Check Your Thermostat
If you haven’t upgraded to a smart thermostat, it’s worth checking yours to make sure it’s functioning properly. A malfunctioning thermostat can lead to uneven heating, increased energy consumption, furnace wear and tear, and an uncomfortable home.
Make sure that your thermostat is functioning correctly and reading an accurate indoor temperature. If you have an older manual thermostat, consider upgrading to a programmable or smart thermostat instead.
Test the Safety Controls
Modern furnaces come equipped with safety controls to shut down the system in case of malfunctions or dangerous situations. As a homeowner, you are responsible for ensuring that these controls work as they should.
Check elements like the pressure switch, limit switch, and flame sensor. These safety features are the most important part in protecting your home from potentially dangerous situations with your furnace.
Keep a Clean Area Near the Furnace
Your furnace is a major home appliance and investment, so you want to make sure it’s taken care of properly. Along with furnace repairs and maintenance, this means keeping the area clean and free of clutter.
Avoid storing flammable materials near the furnace, which can combust, and clear any obstructions that can hinder proper air circulation. This is also important if you need to bring in a technician in an emergency.
Consider a Furnace Upgrade
Fed up with constant furnace repairs? Even furnaces that are well cared for will eventually reach the end of their lifespans and suffer from problems. When that happens, upgrading is often more cost effective than getting major repairs done.
High-efficiency furnaces use advanced technology to maximize heat output and minimize fuel waste. What does that mean for you? Lower energy bills without sacrificing your home’s comfort. Though the upfront cost may be higher, you get long-term savings for your investment.
Relieve the Burden on Your Furnace
Taking care of your furnace is one thing, but you can take some steps to help your home retain heat and give your furnace a break. Here are some tips to keep things cozy during a chilly winter:
Use Area Rugs
Rugs are part of your home’s aesthetic, but they have a functional purpose – warmth. If you have hardwood or tile floors, put down some fluffy, warm area rugs that will keep your home more comfortable.
Let the Sun In
Even if it’s frigid outside, the sun coming through the window has a lot of warmth. Take advantage of those sunny days by opening the curtains or drapes. The rays will help to warm up your home, letting your furnace take a little breather.
Close the Curtains at Night
Curtains do more than maintain your privacy. In winter, heavy curtains and drapes can trap some heat inside your home. Make sure to close the curtains and drapes at night.
Leave the Oven Door Open
This is not a long-term solution, but you can get some heat in your home by letting the oven cool with the door open after cooking or baking. You’d be surprised at how much heat is released. Just be mindful of doing this if you have pets, children, or elderly house guests.
Reverse Ceiling Fans
If you have ceiling fans, simply reversing the motion to get them moving clockwise can push warm air downward to keep you and your family warmer.
Mind the Drafts
You lose a lot of warm air through small openings like doggy doors and mail slots, making your furnace work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature. Keep these areas covered as much as possible. On an especially cold night, use thick towels or a wool blanket to close up these spaces and hold the heat in.
Keep Up with Regular Furnace Maintenance
Regular furnace maintenance is the foundation of a functional furnace. Before the cold season arrives, schedule a professional inspection and maintenance service for your furnace. The certified HVAC technicians at Service Champions will thoroughly examine your system, clean crucial components, lubricate moving parts, and check for minor issues.
When you invest in routine maintenance, you can identify problems early on and prevent major breakdowns that can make your home unlivable in the dead of winter. If you need furnace repairs or maintenance before winter hits, contact us at Service Champions to schedule an appointment!